One of the hardest things to achieve in life is trust. As the saying goes, “the most expensive thing in this world is trust; it takes years to earn and only a matter of seconds to lose”. This is quite true and surely many of you have experienced the awful feeling of losing someone’s trust or not being able to trust someone else. Lack of trust can make us lose people that we value, either in personal relationships, at work or in business.
The importance of trust in all your engagement efforts should not be underestimated or undervalued. Without a purpose or a consistent effort to foster trust and build solid relationships at every step of the way, even well-planned engagement strategies can fail or fall short of the success you’re trying to achieve.
Why Trust Is Important To Your Business
Trust is defined as an assured reliance on character, strength, ability and truth of someone or something. One of the major challenges and issues facing businesses today is building trust with potential customers or the target market. This also holds a true in building trust internally among employees and management to create a healthy and productive work environment. Many experts believe that in order to portray a trustworthy business or brand, it should start from within the company. Trust is a key factor in developing a healthy work environment because it is the foundation for effective motivation, communication, associate retention and contributions of energy and creativity.
Trust is an essential precursor to the following:
- Cooperation as a group
- Feeling able to rely upon another person
- Taking thoughtful risks
- Experiencing believable communication
Your working relationships that have been built on trust are essential and are considered a competitive advantage because trust is so very valuable and so rare. Experts and successful leaders believe that trust is significantly related to profits, sales and turnover. They also added that the ability of the leader to earn their employee’s trust creates a competitive advantage over competitors.
Business Trust Levels
At present, trust has more value than ever, especially when it comes to your relationship with your employees, clients and stakeholders in your business. Remember that trust is right at the very core of the success and survival of any business and professional relationships. There are certain factors of trust that every client, customer or stakeholder looks for when doing business with you:
- The first level. This is the trust of technical competence and know-how. At the first level, clients can depend on someone whose level of competence inspires trust. The statement “just trust me” is not adequate in today’s world.
- The second level. This is where your character and ethical conduct counts. Your reputation as a leader and as a business is paramount. Your honesty and your integrity must be unquestioned.
- The third level. This is your interpersonal skills and relationships. You must make sure that your customers and clients know your value of respect and confidentiality.
- The fourth level. This is being transparent and being open in your business relationship. A lack of transparency will make you seem untrustworthy which can damage your business relationship.
- The fifth level. To be a person of your word and be accountable in all of your decisions and actions in all your business relationships.
Once trust has been established within the workplace, this will reflect on the product, services or brand that your company holds.
What is Brand/Branding?
To understand on how to build brand trust, you must first understand what is meant by brand and branding. A brand is the image or the idea of a product or a service that people connect with by identifying the slogan, name, logo or the design of the business or company that owns the idea and the image. Branding on the other hand is when that idea or image is marketed so that it can be recognised by people and identified with a specific product or service when there are other companies offering the same products or services. Advertising and marketing experts work on branding to build brand recognition in order to develop good reputations and a set of standards to which the business should work and strive to either maintain or surpass. Branding is an essential part of Internet marketing and ecommerce because it allows companies to build their reputations and expand beyond the original service or product. Plus a wider reach through the World Wide Web will add to the revenue generated by the original brand.
Branding is also a way of building an important company asset: good reputation. Whether a business has no reputation to speak of or a bad reputation, proper branding can help change that. Proper branding can develop expectations about the business’ services and products. It can also encourage the company to maintaining that expectation or exceeds it, which brings better services and products to the competitive marketplace.
When working on branding or brand building, businesses that are taking advantage of SEO and having their own websites have a few details to work on before building their online reputation and selling a successful and trusted brand. Coordinating brand names and domain names helps in identification with the idea or image of a specific product or a service which in turn helps customers and visitors discover your brand.
The Difference Between Branding and Marketing
To make it simple, marketing is a tactical move while branding is strategic. Marketing can contribute to the brand name, but the brand name is bigger than any specific marketing effort. The brand name is what remains after the marketing has swept through the room. Brand is what sticks in your mind and is used as an association tool for a product, organisation or service. The brand determines if someone will become a loyal customer or not. Marketing is what can convince you to buy a specific model of the brand. The brand is built on many different factors and some of the most important of these things are the real life experience of the brand, if it delivered the brand promise and the reliability of the brand. Did the manufacturer or the business uphold the quality standards that made them what they are? Do the sales people or customer service staff know what they are talking about?
Branding converts people into loyal customers and product advocates. Marketing on the other hand can unearth and activate buyers into purchasing the brand. This works for all types of businesses. Every business must sell, but how they sell may differ. Every action, thought, policy, advertisement and every marketing promotion has an effect of either inspiring or destroying brand loyalty to whoever is exposed to it. All of this affects sales.
Is branding costly? It certainly can be, but the return is brand loyalty which is a priceless asset when used correctly.
The Value Of Brand Trust
Trust has been recognised as an essential factor that strongly influences customer loyalty. Brand marketers know that consumers trust in their products is essential in growing and maintaining their customer base. Today, for example, the food industry is one of the largest consumer brand sectors and it is facing increasing consumer concern and lack of confidence in the food being bought. Consumers have a high level of mistrust, not only in brands, but the companies as well. This also includes the services and governments that run them. The backlash in the food industry has triggered social outrage because people are highly concerned that it will impact vulnerable societies and that may also impact their families.
Many experts and businesses believe that when a brand does not behave ethically, fails to share information that is reliable and truthful or mishandles a crisis, the impact on their reputation is very big. In a world where brand loyalty is not guaranteed consumers can switch to a different brand, product or service very easily. This is happening more and more. Trust is not a commodity that can be purchased. Trust is an asset that must be earned through transparency, truthfulness and good practices.
Building Brand Trust
Never before has the average consumer held so much purchasing power. Everyday people can voice their opinions and rally other consumers to do the same using social and mobile technology. Now, the challenge of brands today is to determine the best way to use the voices of the consumers to their advantage. The best solutions share the same core elements – building brand trust and humanising your brand.
It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re running because there is a big chance that you’re struggling with same challenges many businesses experience today – maximising website rankings, generating leads, converting leads, attracting new prospects, taking care of existing customers, boosting the conversion rates and improving brand loyalty. Although there are numerous technologies and strategies to help in solving these issues and challenges, securing your customer’s trust is a very effective way of addressing them all at the same time. Again, it may sound simple, but building trust takes time and effort. Present-day consumers like to make connections and they will invest money and time into brands that they can enjoy and relate to. Below are some helpful tips that can build brand trust and humanise your brand.
1. Start From The Inside
As mentioned earlier, you should start with having a good company culture. The CEO and upper management have the potential to spread the culture all throughout the company which in turn allows your team to be true advocates of your business and brands. Give importance to your employees and if you can post all the employee happenings on your social media accounts and your intranet. Showcasing your team members on your websites and social media sites will go further than just having the basics. And when your customers, followers or website viewers see that you’re fostering a great company culture, they will be more willing to try to give their trust to your business.
2. Build an Emotional Connection
Being true and genuine and authentic is something that a business can’t fake. Consumers are smart and they expect a lot from brands that they choose to buy and give support. More than a great product or service, it’s the passion and the cause at the core of the business that build this deeper emotional connection between the customer and the brand. All of which can be fostered through relevant, personal and meaningful content. You can also build an emotional connection with your customers and your community, even when doing simple things like administering a survey.
If your company is not in an innately creative industry, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create an emotional connection with your customers. You just have to work a little harder to figure out what will initiate that bond. Emotional connection can also come from shared interests. Be willing to dig a bit deeper for a common interest. Use some personality that will forge that emotional connection.
3. Make The Brand’s Tone Engaging, Personal and Approachable
For many companies, portraying themselves as trusted industry leaders is essential to gaining credibility and generating leads. And while that is certainly a crucial factor, it does not counter the need for a human element. And the reality is, you as a business can still have an educational, professional or even highly technical content that still incorporates a caring, fun and engaging tone on your contents.
4. Tell Your Story
The stories that surround your brand is your advantage over your competition. It’s very important that you allow your customer’s to tell the story for you. The people you serve, the people who love what you do are the best to tell the story of your company. For once, forget about your mission and vision statements. Ask the people who care to tell your story.
5. Personalised Communications
In this age of Big Data, there is no shortage of customer data and insights available at your disposal. There’s no excuse not to personalise your marketing communications today. Although marketing communications account for 70% of spam complaints. By targeting communications to a specific customer segment or segments, you will be able to cater to their individual needs with information or content that is relevant and useful to them. Any personalised communication from a brand or a company makes customers feel important, respected and valued. This makes your business approachable and trustworthy.
6. Build and Nurture Credibility
Reputation and credibility will matter especially in today’s social economy. This is especially true for all online businesses that rely on online reputation in building a solid foundation for success. Businesses that allow customer reviews can get immediate credibility with existing and prospective customers. When customers can easily check the company’s reputation with a quick Google search and make purchasing decision based on Google search rankings and customer comments, reputation management will be very important.
7. Speak The Language of Your Audience
To make a connection to your target audience, you must speak their language. You might have more than one group that makes your customer base and no one will want to hear or read corporate jargon, or sales talk or any flowery language. People want to get the facts straight without making them feel stupid. Communicate with your audience in an educational and informative way. Once your company strikes an emotional chord, the better you will be at learning their language and more approachable and human your brand will be.
8. Create A Fan Base
If you support or play any sport, you know that fan support makes all the difference. And how do sports teams or franchises create lifelong fans? Fans are made based on tradition, admiration or community. You and your friends, family has always supported a specific team in a given sport, or you like specific players and the ethics of the team. Whatever the reason may be, the common factor among these reasons is building loyalty. People don’t just choose a team to support at random; they are influenced by the opinions of others and the other factors that people can relate to a certain sportsman or to the whole team this is the same with business, if you give your audience or customers a voice, they will reciprocate and give the means to be your brand advocates to influence others.
9. Keep Your Website or Blog Active and Relevant
This is the easiest and one of the most important way of showing the human side of your brand to your audience. An active, updated and relevant website will help boost your SEO, providing useful information within your industry and showing you to be an authority and a trustworthy company. It allows the visitors, customers and readers to know that you’re current, active and educated which gives you more credibility.
10. Say Thank You
If somebody helped you share information or decided to retweet your post, be sure to thank that person. These people are helping to spread the word on your behalf. They are your online ambassadors. You can’t thank everyone, but try to make the most of the people who help you out. Posting a Facebook status thanking your followers and fans for helping you reach a milestone goes a long way.
11. Always Be Available
Humanising and building brand trust will not happen if there’s no humans to do it. For example, if one of your followers or customers chatted to you about an issue about your product or service, someone should be available to get their details and have the customer’s issue resolved as quickly as possible. If possible, everything should be settled in real-time. Someone should be available to respond to all comments, questions and reviews. Do not ignore the importance of frequent engagement and do not be afraid of customer complaints. Opportunities like these can often turn into great testimonials when customers are taken care of and handled with care.
12. Always Remember The Definition of Trust
Again, trust is the firm reliance on the ability, integrity or the character of a person or brand. It’s also the condition and resulting obligation of having confidence placed into something. Trust is a powerful thing to have, especially if it’s built the right way in today’s world of digital, interactive and social media marketing and development. Trust in the brand and business is the true source of a happy customer.
It’s a fact that customers and other consumers are heavily influenced by the experiences of the people around them and routinely check and consult customer reviews when forming opinions about a business. By leveraging feedback, properly engaging customers and acting fast on customer issues, you have all the tools you need to create the most powerful brand marketing asset out there: trust.